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How to dress Corporate | Corporate Style

If you’ve ever watched The Devil Wears Prada, you’ll be familiar with the ‘clackers’ and from someone who also used to click clack about in heels on an office lobby floor, I can identify with the gruelling proposition of waking up each morning and having to choose an outfit for work. If you’re a girl who doesn’t have a standard uniform for work, chances are you go through the “throw everything on the floor in the wardrobe till you find something” moments some mornings too. The important thing to know is you’re not alone and we can help you with our how to dress for the corporate world of work with some simple solutions.

Dressing for work will also depend largely on where you work too… whether you’re in a large corporate environment or more of a shared creative smart casual office space, there are so many options for daywear these days to suit any environment. It’s important above all to feel comfortable and look professional in your attire to work even if it is on the more casual side, you just never know when that surprise meeting will sneak up on you. Finding an outfit that is stylish and comfy can be quite a challenge, however once you’ve got the key pieces to combine you’ll find you’re wearing your basics on repeat and changing up other pieces to create an array of working week outfits.

The Smart Casual Office

You might work in a shared office space with other creatives or alternatively have casual Friday at work that requires a dressier look than jeans and a T-shirt but whatever it is, there are so many options out there for smart casual office dress. Your best friend in smart casual is definitely going to be your blazer collection! There never was an outfit we met that couldn’t be dressed up to look more professional by simply adding a blazer or a pair of heels. If you’re a girl who can’t wear or doesn’t like wearing heels, opt for a classy and comfy pair of ballet flats they’ll be just as effective in creating the perfect smart casual look.

Tops for Smart Casual

The smart casual style of dress lends itself to so many options in the realm of tops. The possibilities are literally endless! Think about mixing up bright or printed tops with your jeans or pants if they’re a bit on the plain side, smart casual tops don’t necessarily have to have collars that are more popular with corporate style dress, however a relaxed collared shirt looks quite nice paired with jeans and loafers.

Shop that bird label Felicity Blouse

Shop boho bird Lady Whitledown Blouse

Skirts for Smart Casual

Similarly to our tops for smart casual, skirts are also pretty much free game, while corporate dress generally opts for pencil skirts and A-line, smart casual lends itself to more free flowing ensembles if need be. Again, longer maxi skirts can be dressed up with a smart blazer or collared shirt and a pair of heels.

Shop handpicked by birds Printed Calf Length Full Skirt

Shop bird keepers Eco Pull on Skirt

Pants for smart casual

Think paper bag waists, linen, jeans and all of the above! The selection of pants for smart casual is very wide, it’s so important to choose something you’re going to be comfortable in all day. If you are wearing jeans for your smart casual look, generally we would suggest them without rips or other details such as embroidery etc and as always, darker colours will look slightly more dressy that your light wash denim. White jeans or pants can look quite effective for the smart casual look especially when paired with something like a navy striped tee and blazer combination, just be careful that you’re not going to be dealing with printer ink if you’re choosing this option!

Shop natural for birds Linen Brushed Pant

Shop bird by design Printed Pull on Pant

Shop bird keepers Mid Rise Skinny Jean

Dresses for smart casual

Again, smart casual is a dream for dresses because like our skirts you can have a little bit more of a play on volume or shape. If you’re looking for a comfortable option for work, opt for an A line or fit and flare dress with a pair of flats, this is one of the easiest combinations to put together, pair it with a denim jacket and your favourite lippie and you’re good to go!

Shop bird keepers Everyday Dress

Shop bird by design Reversible Knit Dress

Jackets for smart casual

In our introduction to smart casual we said that the blazer would be your best friend and we weren’t fibbing! The blazer can instantly dress up a pair of jeans and a top and when wearing it for smart casual you can also opt for colours or even prints that make a basic denim or plainer pair of pants really pop! Long line coats also look beautiful over smart casual wear and will keep you warmer right down the body for Winter in the office in the cases that your blazer isn’t doing the trick. Again, don’t feel you need to have a jacket with a collar for smart casual but it is good to keep one around just in case.

Shop bird by design Define Stripe Stretch Blazer

Shop bird keepers Everyday Blazer

Shop boho bird Cool Order Jacket

Accessories for smart casual

Have some fun with your accessories in smart casual, especially if you’re heading out after work in the same outfit, you can brighten up plain coloured clothing through utilising bolder accessories. Cute coloured or patterned clutch bags or tasseled earrings can work wonders with a blazer and denim and a longer style necklace can complete an outfit with a plain looking top. Don’t be afraid to add a brighter patterned or printed scarf in during the colder months to keep warm during the working week.

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Shoes for smart casual

Now you don’t HAVE to wear heels if you don’t want to, however they can look super smart with a pair of skinny jeans and a blazer… just sayin’! If you’re uncomfortable in a pair of skyscrapers, opt for a pair of trendy little ballet flats, loafers or derby shoes that will look just as super cute and check out your options in terms of patent leather or prints to add more detail.

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Dressing for the Corporate Office

Unlike smart casual, our corporate offices generally require something more conservative and ‘dressy’ if you like. It may seem like a struggle finding something different to wear each day, commonly 5 days a week, however if you keep a few good staple pieces such as a blazer, skirt, dress and pants you’ll be able to interchange things such as tops and accessories to keep it fresh. The pencil skirt is a common one for our office gals, you’ll find you can mix with plenty of tops and jackets to change your look on a daily basis.

Colours within the corporate office can be difficult to navigate, traditionally workwear can seem quite ‘boring’ with a lot of black and grey in your basics such as pants and skirts, however this doesn’t always have to be the case. Look for pieces in navy or even something with a slight print that’ll still keep professional but add some interest in your outfit.

Tops for the corporate office

Tops are an essential for the corporate office, they’ll be the pieces you’ll pop on to mix up daily looks with your pants and skirts. It’s so important to remember necklines when dressing for the corporate office, this doesn’t mean our bigger busted girls shouldn’t be wearing their signature v-necks, however they may just need to be a slightly higher V to remain professional within the office space. Tops with details at the neckline, such as bows or ties can look wonderful under a plain blazer adding some interest to your otherwise standard outfit. Consider prints in understated or monochrome colours if you’re looking to create some detail without being too colourful. Otherwise, if you’re ok to wear any colours you’d like, go for gold we say! Mix up prints and colours of your tops to add a bit of pizazz to the working week.

Shop moonlight bird Elena Blouse

Shop bird by design 3/4 Sleeve Boat Neck Top

Shop Sacha Drake Reversible Tie Top

Skirts for the corporate office

Our old friend the pencil skirt is probably the most common pick for the corporate office. We see skirts time and time again as essential pieces for the working girl, they’re probably one of the most versatile pieces in the work wardrobe purely because they can be dressed up and down so many different ways. For example, you can utilise heels or flats to pair with your skirt, if your shoe game is strong you’re going to see them a lot more wearing a skirt than pants.

Skirts can also be worn in both colder and warmer months, they lend themselves to having the legs bare in the summer or otherwise with a cute pair of tights or stockings in the winter. Once again… SO versatile. If the majority of your skirts are quite plain in colour, think about pairing with a coloured or printed top or blazer to brighten up your working look. We’d recommend if you’re working within a conservative corporate office to stick to skirts that are knee length or longer as a guide.

Shop Sacha Drake Pencil Skirt

Shop bird by design A Line Knit Skirt

Shop bird by design Tube Skirt

Pants for the corporate office

Pants are probably going to be the most versatile thing in your wardrobe and an absolute corporate girl’s essential. Opting for basic plain coloured pants in your selection allows you to mix it up with colours and prints on your top half, obviously the darker the colour, the more slimming they will appear. This may seem obvious but black pants in the corporate wardrobe are an ABSOLUTE must, navy is also fast becoming popular due to its ability to pair with a beautiful crisp white shirt or brighter colours without being quite as dark as black.

By all means corporate girls, pop in a pair of printed pants if you feel comfortable mixing these up for work. You really can’t go wrong with monochrome prints, they still add detail without attracting too much attention to your outfit if you’re in a conservative scene for the day.

Shop bird by design The Wide Leg Ponte Pant

Shop bird by design Printed Travel Pant

Shop bird by design Button Detail Pant

Dresses for the corporate office

Sure you may not be able to swing a flouncy maxi dress around your conservative corporate office, however that doesn’t mean you have to shy away from prints and pattern that’ll add a little interest to your outfit. Wrap dresses and A line are very common amongst the corporate crowd and the best thing about wearing a dress to work is that it can often translate to an outfit suitable for after work drinks without having to change! Magic!

The wrap dress is a popular favourite amongst our nine to five crowd and why wouldn’t it be, it’s comfortable, flattering on bigger busts and accentuates that waist to give definition to the body. The only thing we’d tell you to watch in a corporate world is the length, generally knee length or longer in your dresses is probably preferable and avoids you constantly tugging at your clothing throughout the day.

Shop Sacha Drake Iris 3/4 Sleeve Dress

Shop bird by design The Printed Long Rita Dress

Shop belle bird Belle Basic Wrap Dress

Jackets for the corporate office

We mentioned our trusty blazers up in the ‘smart casual’ section but this doesn’t mean that they’re not corporate’s bestie too. Blazers will carry a corporate girl all year round, utilise shorter sleeved options in summer and long line jackets in winter but again have some staples you can use on repeat in your wardrobe. Your jackets and blazers don’t necessarily need to be grey or black, consider power colours like red that may just brighten up your complexion and allow you to pair with a darker coloured skirt or pants. Don’t rule out belting your longline jacket to add a bit of interest to your outfit and keep you nice and snug.

Shop bird by design The Asymmetrical Hem Coat

Shop bird by design The Define Ponte Jacket

Accessories for the corporate office

Keep it simple with your accessories for the corporate office, you’re working most of the day so heavy drop earrings can be hard to take for long periods of time. Opt for something lighter and more simple that will still add a statement to your outfit if you feel it requires. A belt is another handy accessory to have in your corporate wardrobe to finish off the line between your skirt and top or to waist in your dresses. Scarves will always keep the corporate girl just that little bit warmer in Winter, a few in basic colours will get you through the year and can be teamed with any outfit combination whether it be suit, skirt and top or dress. Ensure you invest in a good laptop bag that can be carried over the shoulder and doubles as a handbag so you’re not carrying multiple, looking like the bag lady heading to your next meeting.

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Shoes for the corporate office

Generally for corporate, we’d point you towards heels. They not only look beautiful with any combination of pants, skirt or dress but they can help some of us to feel more confident which is wonderful in the corporate world. Now, we’re not talking breakneck heights here, there are some gorgeous lower style heels getting about with pointed toes that are a perfect alternative to those who aren’t comfortable in heels for the day. A pair of nude and black heels will literally keep corporate girls going for the majority of their working career, the two colours can be paired with almost anything you can throw at them! If you’re a total no no on heels, invest in a lovely pair of patent leather flats or the like, they’ll be sure to keep your outfit smart but also super comfortable (oh and before we forget clackers… you might want to stash a pair under your desk too).

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How to dress corporate in Spring / Summer

Ahhhh the overwhelming smell of the spring flowers, warmer days and brighter colour palettes! There’s nothing like transitioning into the warmer months and we start to think about accessorising rather than layering our clothing. Skirts are going to be your best friend in Summer alongside wide leg cropped pants or culottes, they’re still professional yet a little bit cooler for those warmer days inside the office. 

Don’t be afraid to play with floral prints during the spring / summer period, it makes for a nice change from the darker tones of autumn and winter. If you can’t ramp things up too much in the colour and print department, stick to your pastels that are more muted tones and conservative friendly. It’s important during the warmer months to ensure you’re in clothing that’s comfortable for you to last all day and stay cool, natural fibres are wonderful for this so anything linen etc will make your life a little easier on those hotter days.

How to dress corporate in Autumn / Winter

Autumn / Winter is here and they’ve got a mixed bag in store for our working girls… you’ll be facing beautiful sunny days with cold afternoons or those true wintery feels in the breezes coming straight off the snow or the like. Wherever you are in our great country, you will need your layers at some point, especially at work considering we spend majority of the day there! Long line jackets or trench coats are an absolute MUST for our working girls in autumn and winter, they can generally fit under layers comfortably underneath whilst still maintaining a professional exterior. 

There are some gorgeous jackets out there, stick to your staple colours so you can mix and match your outfit pieces underneath and if you don’t like your arms inside your jacket, you can always throw it on over your shoulders for more of a cape look.

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Shop Monochrome Meeting

Whether you’re a corporate conservative girl or in the smart casual scene, the most important thing about dressing for work is dressing for comfort. As you’ll agree with us, many hours are spent at work so whilst you always want to look your best, do so provided it’s going to last you for the length of the day. Opt for a smart pair of flats instead of heels, an A-Line skirt over pencil, whatever works for you and your style and lastly… don’t be afraid to mix it up! You never know when your bright outfit will make someone’s working day better! To shop all our work related fashion head here… 

Love, the birdsnest girls x

UPDATED: This article was first published on 4th August 2021